Historical Committee and Road Maintenance Dominate Old Tappan Borough Council Discussions

At the recent Old Tappan Borough Council meeting, several residents passionately emphasized the significance of historical committees and the preservation of the town’s natural beauty. The council also grappled with infrastructure decisions affecting roads and drainage.

A local citizen, lauding the planning board’s rejection of a recent proposal, cast a spotlight on the Historical Committee. He voiced an earnest desire to rejuvenate the committee, enhancing its ability to emphasize the town’s historical value and heritage. However, a member of the historical committee remarked that while the committee is far from dormant, it struggles without an allocated budget and merely wields advisory powers.

Another long-term resident’s heartfelt tribute to the town’s inherent natural beauty—expressly the lush trees—underscored the significant reduction of these natural attributes over a span of 25 years. Voicing her gratitude to the council for their firm stance against legal threats, she championed the transformation of properties into educational historic sites. The vision? A holistic nature learning center, catering to all age groups and potentially turning the town into a sought-after destination.

Tom, who seemed familiar with the town’s infrastructural challenges, weighed in on the issue of drainage. Responding to a concerned email about flooding following a heavy storm, he ascribed the problem to the storm’s unusual intensity. He acknowledged potential solutions like upsizing pipes or constructing a catch basin but did not view the issue as persistently problematic. A resident’s dismay at the state of Wolf Road post-repaving was noted, with Tom admitting the unusual debris left behind post-work and assuring residents that valid claims would be addressed by the contractor’s insurance.

The discussions were not confined to historical conservation and infrastructure. The council tackled the burgeoning popularity of pickleball, detailing plans for fundraisers, court reservations, and highlighting the challenges faced due to inclement weather. Other updates included the fire department’s impending transition to a new radio system, the Department of Public Works’ relentless efforts, especially in the aftermath of rainstorms, and the police’s busy month, addressing over a thousand service calls.

A robust debate around the ‘tree ordinance’ update indicated its importance, with the council revealing an impending draft in September. Concerns about the accessibility of fire trucks to a newly erected building at the intersection of Washington and Old Tappan Road added another layer to the dialogue. A member pointed out that irrespective of legal obligations, a comprehensive review of site plans can prevent such issues.

Public inquiries enlivened the meeting. One individual’s query on a lawsuit, naming him as a defendant, met with the council’s reticence due to ongoing litigation. Peter Ardito from Harrington Park raised his voice regarding two citizens’ inclusion in a lawsuit about planning board matters, emphasizing constitutional rights. He also initiated a conversation on stormwater management, underscoring the urgency for inter-town collaboration due to the increased runoff from developmental activities and torrential downpours.

Sherry Connor’s expression of gratitude for the council’s openness to public hearings reiterated the community’s endorsement of their resolutions, particularly those concerning environmental and historical sites. Furthermore, a rising concern about traffic safety, especially near schools, was addressed, with the council delineating measures taken and emphasizing the challenge of influencing pedestrian behavior.

The meeting’s curtain fell with acknowledgment of Jane Cho’s call for transparency in the open space trust fund’s deployment and her disapproval of fencing a golf course, with the council assuring her of considering her perspectives.

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